On my way to Opening Day

10 Comments

I’m about ready to leave my fortified compound and hit the road up to Cleveland for Opening Day, where I’ll see the Tribe take on the White Sox.  While there I’ll be the guest of the Indians in the Indians Social Suite, which should be cool. Depending on the conditions (of both me and the suite) I may blog. But I will definitely be on Twitter spouting off about the game, so give me a follow.

I have mixed feelings about taking in games from suites. They’re fabulous — oh, they’re fabulous — but for all of the luxury, they’re kinda … well, wrong in some very important ways. As I wrote the first time I ever took in a game in a suite:

Baseball just isn’t baseball if you’re not trying to flag down a beer guy. Or fighting for arm rest space. Or listening to some yahoo three seats down explaining to everyone that Adam Dunn should “take what the defense gives him” and try to take balls the opposite way. I love the comfy environs of the suite life, but watching baseball shouldn’t be that easy. At the risk of trafficking in kneejerk populism, I can’t help but think that the experience of watching a game should simply be more democratic. I don’t feel comfortable being an elite up there in a skybox, even if I enjoy almost every second of it when I do so.

But no, you can’t have my ticket. Are you nuts? The White Sox were having friggin’ snowball fights at Progressive Field yesterday!  And let’s leave it to Ozzie Guillen to put an April 1st game in Cleveland in perspective:

“Very stupid to play in Cleveland right now. Nothing against Cleveland.  We expect that. When you play in Cleveland on Opening Day…a couple years ago they canceled like 30 games here.”

So, yeah, though I promise to sit in the outside portion as much as possible, I’m not gonna sneeze at the suite.  And save it, because if you say you would, you’re lying.

Play ball. And pass the caviar.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
12 Comments

The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.